Even with no product and no Web site, you can get paid for what and who you know
Making money online used to pretty much require you to have your own Web site, products to sell and some marketing savvy. But a new generation of dot-coms have arisen that will pay you for what you know and who you know without you having to be a web designer or a marketing genius.
But it's hard to tell hype from the real deal. I did a search on "make money online" and "making money online", and much of the information out there is just promoting various infoproducts, mostly about Internet marketing. I see why people sometimes ask, "Is anyone making money online besides Internet marketing experts?"
So I put together a list of business opportunities with legitimate companies that:
Pay cash, not just points towards rewards or a chance to win money
Don't require you to have your own Web domain or your own products
Don't involve any hard-selling
Aren't just promoting more Internet marketing
Give a good return on your time investment
In the interest of objectivity, none of the links below are affiliate links, and none of them have paid or provided any other consideration for their presence here.
These are legitimate companies with business models that allow you to get paid for a wide range of activities.
Help friends find better jobs.
Sites like H3.com and JobThread connect employers with prospective employees, many of whom are already employed and not actively job-hunting, via networking - the people who know these qualified candidates. Rewards for referring a candidate who gets hired range from a few hundred dollars to as much as $5,000 - not chump change. This is a great way to break into the recruiting business with no overhead. JobThread is intriguing in that they can set up a job board for your site or your organization (you don't even have to have a web site) at no cost to you -- no merchant account required. You determine the posting fees and split the revenue with them.
Connect suppliers with buyers.
Referral fees are a common practice in business, but they haven't been used much in online networking sites because there was no way to track them. InnerSell provides that. Vendors set the referral fees they're willing to pay, then when a deal happens, you get 70% of the referral fee.
Provide business contact information.
One of the greatest challenges in sales is getting accurate contact information about prospective customers. A growing number of services have launched in the past couple of years to help address this, but most rely on members to maintain their own contact information. Jigsaw, on the other hand, pays members to help keep information up-to-date on the people they know, not just themselves, and pays them to do so ($1 for each unique new qualifying contact you put into the system). According to Jigsaw, in their first payout after launch, the top ten point-earns each received more than $750.
Become a semi-pro reporter.
Creative Reporter is a new program from Creative Weblogging that lets just about anyone become a paid reporter/blogger. They're looking for people to create original, but non-exclusive, blog posts / articles of 250-500 words on topics including parenting, celebrities, travel, mobile technology, and more. Pay is $10 per 1,000 page views on your posts (that's excellent pay for Web writing, although there's no telling how much traffic/money you'll actually get).
Write your own blog.
You don't have to have your own Web site, or install blogging software, or even figure out how to set up the advertising. At Blogger you can set up a blog for free in less than five minutes without knowing a thing about web design, and Blogger even automates setting up Google AdSense so you can make money off your blog by displaying ads and getting paid when people click on the ads. To make even more money from it, set up an affiliate program (see below) for books, music, etc., and insert your affiliate links whenever you refer to those items. You'll have to get a lot of traffic to become a six-figure blogger, but pick an interesting topic, write well, tell all your friends, and you're off to a good start.
Related: Blog Profit Tips - Make Money From Weblogs
Advertise other people's products.
If you already have a Web site or a blog, look for vendors that offer related but non-competing products and see if they have an affiliate program. Stick to familiar products and brands - they're easier to sell. To promote those products:
Place simple text or graphical ads in appropriate places on your site
Include links to purchase products you review or recommend in a blog, discussion forum or mailing list you control
Create a dedicated sales page or Web site to promote a particular product
They all work - it just depends on how much time you have to spend on it and your level of expertise with Web design and marketing.
Related: How To How to Really Make Money on the Internet With an Amazon.com Affiliate Site
The above list is by no means comprehensive, but it highlights some of the new and interesting ways to make money online without investing any money, without having a product of your own, and without having expert sales and marketing skills. Most of all, unlike taking surveys or getting paid to read e-mail, the potential return on your time investment is substantial.